Marine Corps Realignment on Guam May Be Tipping Point in Drive for

first_img Dan Cohen AUTHOR The prospect of accommodating a Marine Corps base appears to be pushing sentiment among Guam residents toward seeking greater rights from the United States, through either statehood or independence.Guam, a U.S territory, already is home to Andersen Air Force Base and Naval Station Guam. Starting in 2022, 5,000 Marines and 1,300 dependents will be moving from the Japanese island of Okinawa to Guam, a 30-mile-long island of 160,000 people. Local opposition prompted the United States to scale down its original plan to relocate 10,000 Marines to Guam.Even with the smaller buildup, the island’s residents, who are U.S. citizens, are starting to reconsider their status as a territory.“The prospect of the military buildup caused a crack in the facade of American-ness on this island,” Michael Lujan Bevacqua, who teaches at the University of Guam, told the Washington Post. “Being independent and having the ability to determine our own policies is much better for us,” said Bevacqua, a fervent advocate for breaking free from the United States.Next month, a decolonization commission will recommend to Gov. Eddie Calvo whether to go ahead with a vote on changing Guam’s status as a territory. The measure would provide three alternatives: statehood; free association with administrative power, like Palau and the Marshall Islands; or independence.The vote would only be symbolic as an act of Congress would be required to change the island’s political status.LisaLinda Natividad, who sits on the decolonization commission, points to the Marine Corps realignment as the latest evidence that Guam does not enjoy the democratic rights it deserves. “The whole Guam buildup was set in motion because we’re a U.S. colony, and they think they can do whatever they want with our land,” said Natividad.The issue of Guam’s status is not clear cut. While residents favor greater independence, many would be hard pressed to give up their U.S. passports, and a successful fight for statehood would mean sending their taxes to Washington.Calvo favors statehood, according to the story. “Anything is better than being an unincorporated territory,” Calvo said. “That’s just another word for colony.”last_img

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